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Pro-israel Activism Thwarts Action Against Israeli Medical Association

May 9, 2002
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

In a major victory for pro-Israel groups, a resolution to expel the Israel Medical Association from the World Medical Association was thwarted last week.

The expected resolution, which blamed Israeli doctors for not opposing Israel’s recent military operation, was initated by Denmark and expected to be introduced by one of the Scandinavian member countries of the 14- nation executive body of the association at its annual spring conference held in Geneva.

The WMA — a nongovernmental organization based in a French town outside Geneva that works closely with the United Nations, but operates as an independent consortium of national medical associations — had denied knowledge of any motion to expel the Israel Medical Association.

On its Web site, it called the subject a “hoax” that elicited 20,000 e-mails.

Instead there was a “proposed resolution on the assurance of medical and health services during the armed conflict between Israelis and Palestinians,” said WMA spokesman Nigel Duncan.

That discussion on the Middle East is the reason the IMA, which is not a council member, was invited to the conference, according to Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America.

Hearing rumors about the hostile resolution, the IMA came armed with a position paper condemning suicide bombings and calling for humanitarian access to all victims.

When the IMA arrived, the group was assured by the Scandinavian countries that no such resolution would be introduced, said IMA’s secretary-general Leah Wapner, who credits her group’s lobbying efforts along with Hadassah, B’nai B’rith and the Simon Wiesenthal Center for preventing the potential pitfall.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center linked its Web site to the WMA’s to encourage e-mails of protest.

B’nai B’rith members lobbied their own medical associations in their respective countries, particularly in Latin America and Europe.

Hadassah also worked with the American Medical Association, which it said had planned to block the resolution if introduced.

In the end, the WMA passed a “very balanced” resolution on the Middle East, said Wapner, which denounced terrorism and the use of hospitals and ambulances as a target or cover for any hostile activity.

It was based on the IMA’s position paper, said Amy Goldstein, director of Israel, Zionist and international affairs for Hadassah. And there was even a resolution commending the IMA for its position paper, she said.

As far as Scandinavia’s hostility, it’s a “mystery to us,” said Goldstein, who surmised that increasing Muslim populations and small Jewish numbers had something to do with it.

The Latin American countries along with Germany proved particularly sympathetic in the effort, she added.

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